In April 1991, Britain's Prince Charles hosted a number of world leaders on the royal yacht Britannia for a secret two-day conference while moored off the coast of Brazil. Then-Vice President Al Gore was on board. So were representatives of the United Nations and the World Bank.
What they were up to became apparent 14 months later at the U.N.'s Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, when 179 nations officially signed Agenda 21, a far-reaching power grab to put all human activity under the control of a one-world government.
Or – depending on your perspective – a nonbinding, voluntary program to give local governments guidance on sustainable planning and environmentally conscious growth strategies.
The perspective really matters here, because what looks like an innocuous promise to work cooperatively to one group of Americans is a sinister plot to undo what the Founding Fathers brought together for another, including Ron Paul supporters and a re-emergent John Birch Society,.
It is topic No. 1 for former Fox News personality Glenn Beck, who wrote a dystopic novel released last year called "Agenda 21." It's about a time in the near future in a country that used to be known as America. He promotes the book with an online trailer that doesn't give away much of the plot, but shows a future where swarthy men with gaunt faces and hollow eyes line up for scrutiny by insolent soldiers wielding assault rifles.
It looks scary, but you don't have to buy Beck's book to partake. Agenda 21 is coming soon to a Legislature near you, where L.D. 220 will get a full public airing when Maine lawmakers are not wasting everyone's time yammering on about things like health care and education.
L.D. 220, "An Act to Ban the United Nations Agenda 21 in Maine," has been forwarded to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The public hearing has not been scheduled.
Its sponsor, state Rep. Ricky Long, R-Sherman, was not available for comment Tuesday, but his bill would prohibit the state or any political subdivision thereof from adopting policies or recommendations "originating or traceable to Agenda 21" and prohibit any level of Maine government from working with any organization enlisted by the U.N. to implement "policies related to Agenda 21."
And what are these policies?
The 27-point declaration from the Rio conference includes such revolutionary ideas as:
"Principle 1 – Human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature."
"Principle 4 – In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it."
Since no conspirator is likely to admit that he is trying to undermine American sovereignty, under Long's bill aggrieved citizens could work backward and trace the foreign ideas to the source. To aid that effort, Glenn Beck posted a helpful list of words and phrases to tip off when Agenda 21 ideas are being discussed at the local level.
If you hear any of these, your town officials may be in on the conspiracy: "affordable housing," "common good," "conservation easement," "greenways," "smart growth," "walkable communities" and "wetlands."
Connect the dots – this thing goes further than you think.
So far Portland, South Portland, Falmouth and York have joined the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, an organization that grew out of Agenda 21 to promote sustainability projects.
Yarmouth was briefly part of the movement, but defected when the $600 annual membership seemed too steep, Town Manager Nat Tupper told Press Herald reporter Ed Murphy last month.
As a result of its involvement, Yarmouth started a committee to look at ways to save money on energy.
"There's been no discussion about world domination yet," Tupper said. "But we did regulate dogs off the beach, so I suppose it's a toehold."
The L.D. 220 hearings will be a rare opportunity when we see worlds collide. Most of us live in information bubbles and get all the reinforcement we need if we want to believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or that Paul McCartney is the only Beatle who's really dead.
But it's not that often that people come out of their bubble and confront a world that has no idea what they're talking about.
It may not be a cruise on Prince Charles' yacht, but this should be fun.
Greg Kesich is the editorial page editor. He can be contacted at 791-6481 or at: firstname.lastname@example.orgTweet